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THE LATEST NOTES FROM CABINET
Thursday 21st May 2020

The Latest Notes from Cabinet at its meeting held on Wednesday, May 20th.

Notes from Cabinet (Pt1)

The Cabinet met on a virtual platform for the sixth consecutive time, commencing at 10:45am, and concluding at 2:45pm. All members were present.

1. The Prime Minister informed that there has been no additional reporting of infections, caused by the coronavirus, during these past three weeks; only two people are being treated for this disease in Antigua and Barbuda at this time. Antigua and Barbuda is close to becoming a covid-free destination, ready to receive tourists.

1.a. The Minister of Health reported that, given the June 1, 2020, opening-up of the tourism sector with the welcoming of aircraft from major source markets, the Ministry of Tourism will become most critical in ensuring that all necessary protocols are in place to prevent the importation and spread of the virus.

1.b. Different approaches will have to be applied to take into account the several categories of workers who will likely come into contact by the visitors and crew. In the 14 days remaining, before the first flight lands on June 4, training of Immigration and Customs Officers, baggage handlers and taxi drivers, hotel receptionists and hotel dining staff, and the taxi and bus drivers who operate from hotels, will be undertaken. Two of the 25 persons who tested positive were taxi drivers, the Minister reminded the Cabinet. Sanitizing of the vehicles are to be undertaken before others get in.

1.c. In all likelihood, requiring that coronavirus tests be undertaken at source would prove unlikely and impractical, preventing the visitors from traveling; hence, the rapid testing is to be done in Antigua with a small cost imposed, to be borne by the visitor. The hotels are to act as enclaves (for the first month or two) which the tourists are likely to remain on compound for the duration of their stay; travel away from the hotel will be controlled.

1.d. Returning nationals, who are likely to fly back to Antigua and to enter into family households, will be quarantined upon entry; if that number exceeds the capacity of the quarantine center, then returning nationals will be trusted to self-quarantine. Hundreds of Antigua and Barbuda nationals are likely to be among the first group to embark for Antigua.

1.e. An e-form is likely to be required of everyone traveling to Antigua, replacing the E/D cards which are now filled-out by all persons entering. The e-form will be inputted at the embarkation point and the information transmitted to V.C. Bird International; the contact with Immigration and Customs will be severely limited. A technologically-advanced camera will measure each disembarking passenger’s body temperature; those whose temperature exceed normal will be tested at the airport, not at their hotels. Sniffer dogs at the airport will determine if any unlawful substance is packed in the baggage rather than the customary physical search.

1.f. The Minister of Tourism noted that the protocols are all being studied and will be ready for implementation by June 4. The Minister of Technology is also working closely with both Ministries of Health and Tourism, and with the Immigration and Customs Departments to implement the new technological systems.

Notes from Cabinet (Pt2)

Child Daycare Centers/Facilities are willing to abide by those protocols which will be imposed; consultations continue within the Ministry of Health to determine what systems are best. Those protocols/rules are to be established in one week.

Vendors who sell on streets will be free to recommence their trade from June 1, 2020. There is to be no selling on the beaches, since those who go to beaches for therapeutic reasons are not to linger, or cluster, or play music or bring food or hold picnics on the beach.

Notes from Cabinet:(Pt 3)

The Churches in Antigua and Barbuda have received from the Ecclesiastical Commission a set of protocols to which they have agreed. Although several churches indicate that they would await June 1 2020 to begin holding church services on Saturdays and Sundays, the Cabinet agreed that all churches are free to begin whenever they choose. However, since several churches have made arrangements for virtual broadcasts up until May 31, they are free to commence face-to-face services at their convenience.

The protocols call for social-distancing rules, and increased hygienic practices, and the wearing of masks. Weddings, baptisms, funerals, confirmations and other rituals are compelled to abide by these same protocols such that there is no difference between a regular service and a funeral.


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